Most people understand that chiropractic adjustments are an effective way to treat a variety of pain conditions, but an increasing body of research suggests it can also boost our immune system. In our office in Portland (Woodstock, Sellwood), we help patients with both musculoskeletal issues and general health and wellness.
Previous studies have shown that spinal adjustments can improve specific immune responses in both healthy people and back pain patients. However there have been no major literature review articles of the overall effect of chiropractic on immunity. In a recent presentation at the 9th Chiropractic, Osteopathy, and Physiotherapy Annual Conference in the UK, Jack Neil of the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic analyzed the existing research on spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and immune responses.
After examining the research up to January 2012, Neil determined that spinal adjustments are linked to with a central anti-inflammatory response. Research suggests that SMT may lead to a down regulating of pro-inflammatory cytokines and boost in antibodies involved in the immune response. In addition, SMT may boost the production of tiny cells called leukocytes which support the white blood cells in fighting off a threat. SMT may also affect Natural Killer cells, interleukin-2 activity, TNF-a levels, cortisol, and b-endorphin levels.
The mechanisms behind these processes are still unclear, however. There isn't enough data yet to be sure whether these inflammatory reductions result in a reduction in symptoms. "Most research to date has focused on asymptomatic patients with short-term improvements. The challenge now is to clinically observe long-term health benefits in symptomatic patients," Neil concluded.
Although more research is required, current evidence suggests that chiropractic adjustments can result in positive improvements in the immune system. These immunological changes may explain why chiropractic can reduce inflammation and pain while promoting overall wellness.
We have worked with many people in Portland (Woodstock, Sellwood) improve their health. If you would like to discover the benefits of chiropractic, call Chiropractic Healing Hands for You at (503) 771-1974 for a consultation today.
Neil J. Manipulative therapy and immune response: A literature review of the chiropractic and osteopathic evidence. Clinical Chiropractic 2012; 15(3): 186.